Book Reviews

I've decided to dedicate a page on my blog to my thoughts on some books which I've been reading…not every book, you understand, just those from Indie authors or those which are unusual enough to warrant a few words.
I know there's an element of risk here - after all, I have read the odd book in the past which boasted dozens of 5* reviews but which I thought was pretty dire, but I've decided that it's important to be honest, but balanced.

14th August 2014
1. No building of intrigue - it's a good premise (a room in a former sanitarium where the resident hasn't been seen for 50 years, but where the food that's left is always eaten), but the main character (Cynthia) becomes almost instantly obsessed by Room 913 without any real basis for being so (yes, we're told she's inquisitive, but the 'need to know' is almost instantaneous from the moment she starts working there - I felt it would have been better if there had been events which piqued her interest and slowly drew her in to investigating Room 913, rather than her immediately jumping in).
2. The re-stating of the protagonists characteristics e.g. Janet's tendency for excessive talking, Cynthia's curious nature, etc. In my humble opinion, such things only need to be stated once by the author, and then maybe occasionally re-iterated. Repetition of such things isn't really needed and slows the narrative.
3. A slightly predictable 'twist' - I'm afraid I suspected that Mr Jacobson was Cynthia's father from quite early in the story. As such, the denouement lacked impact for me.
4. The final chapter - I felt that this went on for too long, providing a series of detailed explanations as to the how and why of Jacobson's actions and his relationship with Cynthia. For me, it would have been much better if this information could have been subtly drip-fed into the narrative in earlier chapters so that the final 'reveal' (Jacobson's one-night-stand with Cynthia's mother) comes right at the very end.
5. Tight editing - the novel would, I suggest, benefit from some aggressive editing to really tighten up the narrative and add an edge to the scenes of tension (such as when Cynthia actually breaks into Room 913).
Of course, other people will no doubt read this book and will enjoy it - that's the nature of opinion. For me, though, it didn't quite hit the mark.

26th July 2014

Looking forward to the sequel 'Mother of Eden' which should be out in November 2014.

29th June 2014

The Book on Amazon UK

Of the three stories which Ernesto has included in Ragged Souls, I enjoyed the final one, Cactus Valley, the most. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the first two, though I felt that with regards to the first story in particular, A Purveyor of Odd Things, there is actually a much better, bigger story in there, fighting to get out. There's a sense of the plot and the character development having been 'squeezed' into a short story, resulting in some elements of the narrative (particularly the burgeoning relationship between the two main characters) feeling rushed. I also felt that this story, perhaps more than the second and third ones, needed the 'bizarre' element to be more fully explained.
Story number two, Martha's Kitchen, is quite heavy on dialogue, which may not be to everyone's taste. However, the backstory and the two main characters, Martha and Jillian, are developed to a more satisfyingly level. The plot twist, when it arrives, is pleasingly sudden. The final scene, in my humble opinion, would have more impact if it were considerably shorter, but that doesn't really detract from the overall tale.
Story number three, Cactus Valley, as I mentioned earlier, is my favourite. Ernesto creates two interesting, though not entirely likeable, main characters and engenders a good sense of isolation and peril around them. There is an almost comedic element to this tale, based on a clash of ideologies, which is the most satisfying of the three 'bizarre' twists.
Overall, three very readable short stories that I'd certainly encourage people to have a look at.

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